One hundred and seventy-six elegant woodblock prints by Japanese nineteenth century artist Katsushika Hokusai are on display in Melbourne at the NGV. It’s a huge exhibition and a popular one. What is it about these images, from a culture aeons from mine in sensibility and almost two centuries in time that are so riveting? And why do they remind me of Turner, Freidrich and Cozens – those Northern European painters for whom landscape was a metaphor of transcendence? What could a Japanese printmaker have in common with a Romantic painterly sensibility? [Read more…]
Seeing the world as more than a backdrop or stage-set for unfolding narratives is the basic premise of landscape painting. It requires sensation rather than symbol to be the dominant motive. This is at odds with the corrosive didacticism of much academic art which looks for the obvious moral in every artwork. The recently set up Hadley’s Art Prize – a $100,000 prize for an Australian landscape painting, is a case in point. It has been called a landscape prize when what they really require is history painting, and a certain kind of history at that.
Hobart hotel owner Don Neil has launched one of Australia’s richest art prizes, with an annual $100,000 award for landscapes…. and this year invites artists to address the theme “history and place”.
Artist and curator Julie Gough, who is one of the judges, says the award encourages artists to think beyond European concepts of landscape as depictions of sublime nature. “History is about story, and the entrants have to consider that as much as things such as vegetation and landforms,” says Gough. “It will be interesting to see how people push that theme.”
The Australian 27th Jan 2017
And here is Ben Quilty, judging the 2017 Glover Prize for Australian landscape painting and commenting: [Read more…]
There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it. Oscar Wilde
Films about backing one’s dreams appeal to us all. This one comes with a disclaimer in the title: La La Land is where dreams become reality; it’s not the real world. For most of us, there is compromise and complication, along with a large dose of the basic machinery of life. But even in La La Land, (is it a play on Los Angeles/LA?) success is not without cost.
The opening scene – a traffic jam in LA transformed into an exuberant dance sequence involving hundreds of people and cars – sets the mood. In this film, writer and director Damien Chazelle has managed to simultaneosly sustain optimism and probe doubt, intermingling a love story with two creative journeys. [Read more…]
Berger’s ground breaking Ways of Seeing was a cultural tour de force. It remains highly relevant today. But I have never been able to agree with most of what he said.
Growing up in an outer Melbourne suburb, I was blissfully unaware of Berger whose book was published when I was about 11. What I was aware of was the painful ugliness of miles of new suburban housing and the almost visceral reaction I had to the destruction of bush, re-routing of creeks and bulldozing of apple orchards in our neighbourhood. This left me with a life-long appreciation of beauty, and a consequent resistance to any philosophy that told me I couldn’t have it, or it didn’t exist. I had seen it, and I had seen it destroyed.
So Berger and I were never going to get along, as for him, concepts like beauty are merely conditioned responses, built into us through culture by the powerful for the purpose of control. [Read more…]
Bridge 38 Galley, Richmond, November 10th – 30th, 2016
Attending an exhibition opening can be a bit like going on a blind date. What if I don’t like the work? What will I say? Painting can go so wrong and often does. But in this small gallery in the heart of Richmond, sixteen paintings demonstrate that Harley Manifold knows what he is doing with paint. His surfaces are articulate, composite, layered. Colour is calibrated into convincing form. [Read more…]
David Hockney: Current
National Gallery of Victoria 11th November 2016 – 13th March 2017
Two mobile phones attached to a purple wall greet you at the entrance to this exhibition. Their screens are displaying images of David Hockney’s drawings done on a phone. My younger companion’s first reaction is not to the image but to the type of phone. Iphone not android she observes glancing and moving on.
Is this an exhibition about drawing, about Hockney or about technology? Or about advertising? Apple doesn’t seem to have its logo anywhere, but let’s face it; this exhibition is about one company’s product. Is Apple getting all this endorsement for free? [Read more…]
Arc Yinnar Biennial Drawing Prize
October 15 – November 26, 2016
There’s a converted butter factory in a small town tucked into the green rolling foothills of the Strzelecki ranges, where the main street is wide and cars are parked at 45 degree angles. Anyone who can spell Strzelecki must be a local. This is Yinnar on the doorstep of the still-operating Hazelwood coal-fired power station, subject of much debate and despair.
There’s a Drawing Prize here of national repute. Despite the rhetoric of demographic disasters: job losses, mine fires, pollution, asbestos and the rest, Arc Yinnar an artist run venture has been operating for 32 years. As well as hosting a national prize, it boasts two galleries, public access facilities for printmaking, ceramics, metalwork, photography, painting and drawing, a retail outlet, theatrette and private studios. All this on a shoestring grant of $3000. When the lights go out at Hazelwood, this sort of cooperative venture is what keeps communities afloat and shores up their identity. Its funding should be assured for the long term, but I am told it is reduced every year and tied to utilitarian outcomes.
A drawing show throws up immediate questions; how much drawing is going on, what do people draw and what do they draw for [Read more…]
Published in Trouble Magazine November 2016
This landscape painting prize, based in Sale, is one of those generous moments when a local benefactor makes a significant contribution to the nation’s cultural life. Art awards are like that. For a relatively small sum of money (especially compared to sponsoring sport) an exhibition can be established that generates national interest and ensures that serious contemporary work reaches the regions. Such is the foundation of this present show of 49 works selected from 426 entries. This is considerable bang for your buck.
This is an exhibition with vertiginous highs and repellent lows. Predominantly the work is largish and surreal. Colour has mostly escaped any sense of communicating place or mood and is garish even random. Landscape is realised as political trope, as apocalyptic, as memory, dream, and experience, but…
John Leslie Art Prize, 3rd September – 20 November 2016, Gippsland Art Gallery, Sale
Clarice Beckett: The Ordinary Instant
2 July to 11 September,
The Gallery, Bayside Arts and Cultural Centre, Brighton
Beckett’s lyrical soft focus paintings are associated with the tonal school of Max Meldrum and his obsession with contrasting shapes and pattern. This exhibition of over fifty works by Beckett (1887–1935) is shown in the context of seven contemporary women painters responding to her work: Lynne Boyd, Michelle Hamer, Kristin Headlam, Pia Murphy, Saffron Newey, Victoria Reichelt and Camilla Tadich.
Meldrum didn’t believe in drawing – his teleological view of art allowed him to believe he had discovered a new ‘science of appearances’ which superceded line drawing. Beckett adopted his views on [Read more…]